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!BREAKING NEWS: PLANET OBTAINS TEXT OF CITY-SPECTRUM CONFIDENTIALITY AGREEMENT! … ‘THE MAYOR IS A LIAR’ SAY A TRIO OF COUNCILORS. TRUE OR FALSE, EITHER WAY IT’S A POWERFUL AND EXPLOSIVE CLAIM … BEVERAGE COMMISSION ON HERMANN ALEXANDER’S MAKES ONE WONDER: WAS EVERYTHING ON THE LEVEL? … plus … MASSERY LAWSUIT AGAINST THE CITY JUST MORE SOUR GRAPES FROM TWO OF THE SOUREST

By DAN VALENTI

PLANET VALENTI News and Commentary

(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, WEDNESDAY, AUG. 29, 2012) — We begin today’s installation with this exclusive. THE PLANET has obtained what a source has represented as “the entire Confidentiality agreement” agreed to by the City of Pittsfield and Spectrum Health Systems.

We will simply present the contents and not try to decipher the meaning. That will come later. We have much work to do before that. There are two e-mails. The first is from Spectrum’s attorney, Paul Holtzman, who sends the terms to Rich Dohoney, then city solicitor. The second is from Donhoney to Holtzman, agreeing to the terms.

E-MAIL #1

FROM PAUL HOLTZMAN

TO RICH DOHONEY

MONDAY DEC 12 2011 4:49 p.m.

SUBJECT: Agreement regarding confidentiality

RICH,

This will confirm our conversations regarding a potential resolution of the pending federal court action Spectrum Health Systems v. City of Pittsfield Civil Action No. 2011-CV-11075-GAO, are set for settlement purposes only and shall be maintained as fully confidential. Neither the fact nor content of any discussions will be disclosed to the press, to the Court, or to any party or individuals not a party to said discussions. Prior to the agreement between Spectrum and the City on any potential alternative site, no information concerning a potential site will be shared with any person or entity beyond the Mayor’s office and the Community Development staff for the City.

Kindly respond with your agreement to these terms.

Thanks.

Paul.

———————————

E-MAIL #2

FROM RICH DOHONEY

TO PAUL HOLTZMAN

MONDAY DEC 12, 2011, 9:23 p.m.

SUBJECT: RE: Agreement regarding confidentiality

The city agrees with those terms. 

Rich

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Now back to our planned coverage, which, incidentally, concerns this very issue — the increasingly complicated, complex, and labyrinthian City of Pittsfield-Spectrum matter, and the “they said-they said” that has developed into a might battle between a trio of city councilors and the mayor’s office, including the city solicitor.

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“The mayor’s a liar.”

That’s a powerful statement, whether it’s true or false.

MAYOR DAN BIANCHI

A trio of our Right Honorable Good Friends —  Jonathan Lothrop, John Krol, and Barry Clairmont — have accused Mayor Dan Bianchi of lying to them and the council  about a $100,000 budget line item. The three councilors are the liars, doing so for political purposes, Bianchi counters. Each claims to have a document trail that backs up their version of events. THE PLANET is doing our best to hear both sides, verse and chapter, as we wrestle with getting a clear and objective view of what’s what and why for.

How Bad Will it Get?

Forget about the hundred grand. There’s a more important consideration, one that is both practical and political. Practical: This could signal the building of a wall of demarcation that will be in place from now until November 2013. We say “could.” It doesn’t have to be that way.

COUNCIL PRESIDENT KEVIN SHERMAN: A headache on his hands.

If that happens, the citizens of Pittsfield are the losers. We could see a mini-version of “capitol-hill-like gridlock” infect the proceedings of every other Tuesday night at City Hall. It’s not so much that things won’t get done. It’s that every vote will be cast solely for political purposes. Of course, they are now, but here’s the difference: If council president Kevin Sherman cannot get a handle on this situation, “his” council will be “gone with the wind.” The 11 members of the council could come flying out of meetings like coiled snakes in one of those joke cans of peanuts. Whether he realizes or not, this has become Sherman’s problem as much as it is anyone else’s.

Political and Practical

Political: If this case causes city government to unravel, the 14 months between now and the November 2013 election will not be a time to attempt positive action for city residents (translate: taxpayers) but rather to keep jockeying to the election to come. Even well-meaning public servants will be stymied and forced to choose sides. There is some evidence of such a process already under way.

Under these circumstances, little if any of the actions of the corner office and council will be what they purport to be. Suspicions, whether they are justified or not,  will be cast on every point of debate, every contention, and every proposal. Councilors will be under pressure with everything they say as people try to read between the lines. Same with Mayor Bianchi. That’s as close to an overt systemic meltdown that the city has experienced since the good old days of the Rob Tuttle-Lew Markham Comedy Hour. 

The Civic Authority: A Rift Ever Since for the Poor Citizens of Pittsfield

To some extent, this fissure — The Great Divide — has been around since the last term of the Doyle Administration, when all that could go wrong for poor taxpayers did. The lies, deceit, the bad decisions, the financial mismanagement, and the rest came to a head in the Civic Authority vote.

Against all odds, We The People won a giant battle.  Mary Jane and Joe Kapanski understood, in spite of a massive propaganda campaign by the other side, that the Civic Authority wasn’t about a new stadium but about the heart and soul of the city itself. A “yes” vote would have installed an appointed board (by the mayor, mostly) accountable to no one except the GOB. This board would have all the powers of government with voters left with no recourse.

Since then, the GOB has fought a war of attrition, content with making the city “pay” for its mistake in any way it can. To some extent, every misfire, bad decision, lost opportunity, and stupid action perpetrated by the corporate body of “official Pittsfield” can be seen as a function of that momentous vote in 2000. The fiascos have been many: Workshop Live, EV Worldwide, the ruinous terms of the GE consent agreement, the failure of PEDA, the failure to rebuild the local economy, the preservation of too many fiefdoms, the tolerance of too much nepotism and political inbreeding, and on and on it goes.

In the next couple of days, THE PLANET will attempt to meet with the principals in this battle. Our aim is simple: Try and understand the factual sequence of events, in as open and objective a way as possible, to determine the answer to this question:

Did Bianchi lie, as the trio contends or is it the councilors? Is the mayor correct to cast the actions of Krol, Clairmont, and Lothrop in terms of political revenge or has the trio uncovered matters of substance? Is this all about the election of 2013 or is it about the actions of certain officials going back to 2011?

The jury is still out.

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BEVERAGE COMMISSION RULING ON HA PUTS LIQUOR LICENSE INTO PLAY

Time served.

No harm, no foul, no further loss of license.

We did a GOOGLE IMAGES search for "Hermann Alexander's Pittsfield." This was one of the available images. No kidding.

The charges and allegations against Mitchell Grossjung, owner of Hermann Alexander‘s, have piled up like a chain collision on the Santa Monica Freeway at rush hour. The allegations including drug dealing, illegal gambling, and illegal sale of alcohol.

The leniency of the Alcohol Beverages Control Commission has made Grossjung’s liquor license a hot commodity. There will never be a shortage of fools who think they can make a quick fortune plying drunks with booze, although we have the word of the building’s owner, Phil Massery, that the new establishment will be a Little House on the Prairie family restaurant.

No Politics Involved, of Course … Right

There were, of course, no politics going on behind the scenes, even though Massery is a card-carrying member of the GOB. He’s as pure as snow with intentions that are singularly altruistic. We do remember Frank Zappa‘s warning about not eating the yellow snow.

His purity of essence: That’s evidently why Massery and his brother Jim sued the city when the Bianchi Administration pulled the plug on the Adult Learning Center being in the same footprint as Hermann Alexander’s (see story below) and why he and Jim can be believed that his potential new tenants of the Alexander’s space would not run a dive bar. Massery couldn’t have known anything about any alleged activities at Hermann Alexander’s now, could he? He was only the landlord. Two men as plugged into events as these two are certainly would be shocked — shocked! — to learn of the shady allegations surrounding the tenant of one of their prestige properties.

We hope the cleaning company hires to clean up Hermann Alexander’s knows its stuff. We get nauseous thinking about the layers of crud that have accumulated over the years when the establishment went from respectable to reprehensible. Massery knew nothing about that, of course.

—————————————————————————-

MASSERYS’ SUIT AGAINST CITY SHOWED THE BROTHERS FOR WHAT THEY ARE

Phil and Jim Massery sued the city after the city went with Giroa Jery Witkowski, doing business as GDL Associates, for the location of the Adult Learning Center. Massery’s price to continue as landlord for the ALC was $66,000 a year or $330,000 over the course of the five-year lease.  GDL’s contract was for $45,000 a year or $225,000 for five years. That’s a difference of $105,000 a year, savings for taxpayers, for a more central location.

Other considerations in the city’s decision included:

* Build-out requirements.

* Location of space for Family Literacy Daycare Program.

* Proximity to Public Transportation.

* Natural light.

PHIL MASSERY

The Masserys successfully complained in Superior Court (case No. 12-0180.) that the GDL bid was illegal because it failed to comply with the minimum bid specifications of our old friend, MGL 30b, the Uniform Procurement Act that was one of the stars when Mayor Gerry Doyle took bedraggled taxpayers through the Ed Caveny InsuranceLand Amusement Park (“You must be this high to go on this ride”). Jim Massery remembers that one. That debacle happened on his watch as a councilor.

ADA Gets Another One

JIM MASSERY

The Masserys asserted that the GDL bid did not have the required parking, did not comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act  and that the GDL building at 141 North St. wsn’t ready for occupancy on July 1, 2012.

Despite adequate parking in the combined spaces of two parking garages and on-street parking and despite a reasonable interpretation by the city of the other requirements, the court found on July 16 in favor of the Masserys. GDL lost the contract, and the ALC, at last we heard, was heading to the old Hibbard School.

Not What You Would Call the Best Landlords in the World

Based on their “stewardship” as landlords of one of the scuzziest bars in the state, the Masserys should be the last ones to complain about being compliant lessors.

Any reasonable person has to believe that both Jim and Phil Massery knew what was going on for years at Hermann Alexanders. If so or if not, they looked the other way. The best reason we can think of for this was their apparent love of the rental check. Love of mammon. it’s an old story, is it not? If this is accurate, it would be odd behavior for a Rotary Club president, Phil, to rephrase the motto  ”Service Above Self” into “Self Above Everything.”

The Masserys were part of that GOB crew that shilled for the Civic Authority, as we discussed above, in the first item. Are they still playing the revenge game? When Mayor Dan Bianchi took away their cushy deal in providing space for the ALC at inflated rates — when the mayor to his great credit stood up to that foolishness and refused to play that game and thereby save taxpayers $105,000 — the Masserys gummed up the works. They are that little kid who, because he’s not good enough to play, takes his football and goes home, crying, whining, and temper-tantruming all the way.

——————————————————————

JUST A NEW YORK CONVERSATION, BUT THAT SHALL BE FOR ANOTHER DAY, LOU.

“OPEN THE WINDOW, AUNT MILLIE.”

LOVE TO ALL.

39 Responses to “!BREAKING NEWS: PLANET OBTAINS TEXT OF CITY-SPECTRUM CONFIDENTIALITY AGREEMENT! … ‘THE MAYOR IS A LIAR’ SAY A TRIO OF COUNCILORS. TRUE OR FALSE, EITHER WAY IT’S A POWERFUL AND EXPLOSIVE CLAIM … BEVERAGE COMMISSION ON HERMANN ALEXANDER’S MAKES ONE WONDER: WAS EVERYTHING ON THE LEVEL? … plus … MASSERY LAWSUIT AGAINST THE CITY JUST MORE SOUR GRAPES FROM TWO OF THE SOUREST”

  1. FPR
    August 29, 2012 at 7:50 am #

    Hey Dan,

    I’ve been watching some the recent council meetings in Pittsfield. Why? I don’t know – entertainment I guess.

    Having seen Sherman as a councilor awhile back, I didn’t like him. However, as President, I think he is great! Seems much more humble in that position. He was a good choice for President. Hope it doesn’t corrupt him or go to his head.

    I also think you have a good choice for Mayor in Bianchi there. Seems much more down to earth than Ruberto. Doesn’t seem arrogant like Ruberto did.

    I my opinion, the City of Pittsfield could do without the three councilors in question here. They all seem full of themselves and don’t seem to have the City of Pittsfield’s best interest at heart. Maybe a recall and out them?

    The one who seems to stand out to me is Melissa Mazzeo as taking a real interest in the City’s interests.

    Just my opinions which mean absolutely nothing.

    • Levitan
      August 29, 2012 at 8:00 am #

      FPR: Agreed.

      Good column today, Dan. Taking care to get the info will pay off.

    • danvalenti
      August 29, 2012 at 5:11 pm #

      Wrong, FPR. “Just your opinions” mean absolutely everything in our (theoretical) form of government. You hold the highest office in the land: That of Private Citizen.

  2. thrivent
    August 29, 2012 at 8:20 am #

    “The mayor’s a liar.”

    Who is that exact quote attributed to? (I say “exact” because it is in quotation marks, so you lead us to believe someone actually said that – but I didn’t see the quotation attributed to anyone).

    I apologize if I missed it within the corpus of your work, but I don’t believe I did.

    • danvalenti
      August 29, 2012 at 12:00 pm #

      THRIVENT
      This is not an exact quote. This is a non-literal summation of what, essentially, my three Right Honorable Good Friends on the council have asserted with respect to Mayor Bianchi. The quote marks do not indicate attribution but a figurative use.

  3. Joe Blow
    August 29, 2012 at 8:53 am #

    There where city employees caught up at Herman’s,what happens to them?

  4. skier1
    August 29, 2012 at 8:56 am #

    Most of the councilors are respectful of their elected positions and realize they are here to serve the people of Pittsfield. A few of the others may need to leave thier political agendas at the door (and their egos too).

  5. Silent Majority
    August 29, 2012 at 11:54 am #

    Great piece today, Planet. The Spectrum thing with respect to mayor Bianchi stinks. The three “amigos” are in bed together, this is clearly political. Bianchi was handed this mess and hes done a good job with Spectrum.

    • danvalenti
      August 29, 2012 at 5:12 pm #

      SILENT
      thank you.

  6. Ron Kitterman
    August 29, 2012 at 11:59 am #

    http://ipittsfield.files.wordpress.com/2012/07/new-spectrum-motion-for-injunction.pdf

    It would appear that the confidentiality agreement was needed by the Mayor to “ Allay ( the) fears” of a City Council Member who opposes the opening of the Program on the grounds that “ there are going to be people running around in their johnnies [hospital gowns] “ and “ the world is going to come to and end”

    • danvalenti
      August 29, 2012 at 5:13 pm #

      RONNIE
      Somehow, I think the sun will continue to rise and set. I could be wrong, though.

    • Scott
      August 29, 2012 at 5:28 pm #

      Spectrum wanted the agreement so they could put the clinic where they wanted with out public outcry that failed in the Dwyer space so they went back to the summer st. location. If its gonna be here that’s good with me I already look at that side of town as scummy.

      • danvalenti
        August 29, 2012 at 6:58 pm #

        SCOTT
        Yes, and understandable from their viewpoint.

    • levitan
      August 29, 2012 at 5:30 pm #

      Silly fear that. A Pittsfield resident recently learned the hard lesson of what happens when you try to run off with the hospital gowns.

  7. Shakes His Head
    August 29, 2012 at 12:05 pm #

    E-mails are not binding confidentiality agreements. There is no contractual obligation behind that. Show a scan, with a signature, received/recorded by the court. Whatever that is a joke, and if both sides did believe it was a confidentiality agreement, then there is some sketchy lawyering going on in these here parts.

    • Joe Blow
      August 29, 2012 at 5:13 pm #

      I was thinking the same thing.

    • danvalenti
      August 29, 2012 at 5:14 pm #

      SHH
      Most interesting point. I have wondered about this and have received conflicting opinions from the lawyers.

      • levitan
        August 29, 2012 at 5:33 pm #

        It may depend on whether Spectrum and the City established a pattern of email correspondence. A contract does not have to be approved by the court to be legally binding. So long as the parties were not drunk, crazed, or coerced I think it passes the test of an agreement.

    • Donald
      August 29, 2012 at 6:31 pm #

      Agreed. The city should be looking for new counsel if this is considered binding. Unreal.

  8. Emeritus
    August 29, 2012 at 2:18 pm #

    Very nice read. Politics…

    What’s the population of Pittsfield these days? Mid 40′s? Call it 45k. With 11 councilors, that’s appx. 4,100+ residents per. Really?

  9. Silent Majority
    August 29, 2012 at 2:23 pm #

    Population, the true population, is close to 40,000. It wont be too long before it’s under that mark. What I’d like to know is how many of these are productive taxpaying citizens and how many are freeloaders of some sort of another depending on taxpayers for their lives. Too too many.
    Also excellent job, Planet scooping the Boring broadsheet, you’re beating their pants off with this story.

  10. Dave
    August 29, 2012 at 2:35 pm #

    Jonathon Levine should try to tap into some of the $500,000
    that Mayor Bianchi put into his small business fund from the PEDA 10 million. If there was ever a better need of helping a small business it would be helping the Gazette replace the BB!

  11. Demitrius T. Gladiator
    August 29, 2012 at 5:01 pm #

    The BB is dying from asphyxiation. They won’t be around in another year .

  12. Joe
    August 29, 2012 at 5:37 pm #

    All I can say is Wow!!!!!!! Once again the Planet, comes through with a home run. This was a very educational night.Both stories were interesting, and let see how everything plays out.No punches pulled on this site, straight, forward, and here are the facts!!

    • danvalenti
      August 29, 2012 at 6:58 pm #

      Thanks, Joe. Isn’t it amazing how this site, one man with contacts, can consistently outperform an entire newsroom (30-40 reporters and editors) on a consistent basis? It shows what can be done when there’s a willingness to get stories.

  13. Richard
    August 29, 2012 at 6:33 pm #

    Dan,

    I think it is a crying shame that adult students have to suffer because of a landlord’s greed. There’s no way that the facility at Lyman St is worth anything close to the rent price that you have researched and North St is a better location!! Thanks for this informative story. I look forward to hearing more.

    • danvalenti
      August 29, 2012 at 6:56 pm #

      Agreed, RICHARD. Money has a way of ruining most everything.

    • dusty
      August 30, 2012 at 12:35 am #

      Of course it was not worth that much but Massery did not do this without the cooperation of someone in the school dept. Someone agreed to pay this money and why is the question. Were they getting something in return..besides a place for kids?

      If not then this is one more example of how irresponsible the school dept. is and why their budget should be hacked by a large amount. Because of this and the Ipods the whole budget should be gone over with a fine tooth comb.

  14. Scott
    August 30, 2012 at 4:23 am #

    Anyone hear the Westboro baptist church is going to be protesting the funeral of a North Adams soldier who was killed in action? I’ll be stopping by on my way to VT. to show my support of the soldier these people are a disgusting hate group. This is one time I wouldn’t mind a little police brutality those scumbags deserve to be beaten and pepper sprayed. I don’t know how true it is but it’s going around fb.

    http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=1&cad=rja&ved=0CCIQFjAA&url=http%3A%2F%2Fen.wikipedia.org%2Fwiki%2FWestboro_Baptist_Church&ei=bUw_UIzfFIbt0gHg_oGQDA&usg=AFQjCNGE5ADzbUDGahTJKQ5EPR-uTgevEw&sig2=hBsvhDYQhlp3TC3r-GhknA

    • danvalenti
      August 30, 2012 at 5:56 am #

      We would hope this is not the case. If it was, however, and the protest was non-violent, it would be a protected First Amendment right. That’s why the Founders didn’t worry about hate groups and such. They felt if such idiots were allowed to “show their wares,” good people like you, Scott, would heap scorn on them — which is your right.

      • Scott
        August 30, 2012 at 9:26 am #

        Dan, I agree it’s their first amendment right and thank your for giving me a different perspective on the matter. Let them show their bigotry and hate for all us here in our hate free community to see for what it really is. I’m gonna write a sign that says: what gives you the right to cast judgment? My first sign idea was f the westboro church.

    • Kevin
      August 30, 2012 at 6:00 am #

      They come to Albany on a fairly regular basis, people who oppose them generally outnumber the Westboro Baptist 10 to 1, agreed pretty disgusting group, I hope the NA police are ready for them?

      • Scott
        August 30, 2012 at 9:27 am #

        Yeah I hope they filled their pepper spray and polished their clubs.

    • Kevin
      August 30, 2012 at 6:00 am #

      They come to Albany on a fairly regular basis, people who oppose them generally outnumber the Westboro Baptist 10 to 1, agreed pretty disgusting group, I hope the NA police are ready for them?

    • Wilson
      August 30, 2012 at 7:06 am #

      How many kids who watched that glorious event will decide to join the military to become “heroes”, only to have their lives wastefully destroyed in the same way. The memorial could have used a little hostility

      • Scott
        August 30, 2012 at 9:31 am #

        It’s not the soldiers that are to blame they are sold the idea to defend our country and the constitution it’s the gov’t and corporations that influence how they’re used. Their patriotism is being taken advantage of by a small group of people for profit. These are two different conversations let the man rest in peace and thank his family for the sacrifice.

  15. Joe Durwin
    August 30, 2012 at 12:31 pm #

    Dan, I posted a pdf scan of the confidentiality agreement on my blog many weeks ago. Hundreds of people viewed it (that’s tens of thousands, in Planet-speak); sorry you missed it. I would have emailed you a copy.

    • danvalenti
      August 30, 2012 at 12:57 pm #

      Thank you, Joe. No one saw it, apparently. I understand you have or will be posting full documents in the case. If you do, let me know, and I can refer my readers there. That way, in teaming up, we can provide great coverage. I can attempt to explain what the documents mean. You can publish all of them.